Thursday, February 26, 2015

Firearm Forum Question: Firearm Types

Ask A Firearms Question:
I am a visiting student here in the USA from Honk Kong. We are prohibited from owning firearms. Can you please explain the various firearm types (categories).
Thank you Lu Kwon Lim.

Answer:
Blog Administrator -
If I understand your question, I have listed the various types of Firearms by type (category) below.
I have simplified these terms.








Handguns:
There are Three Basic Types -
1) The Revolver.
A revolver has a spinning cylinder that the ammunition goes into and as the firearm is cocked or the trigger pulled the revolver advances to the next cylinder for firing.
Revolvers have two categories -
Single Action - This means the hammer must be pulled back every time to cock and fire the handgun.
Double Action - Generally the cylinder opens for loading. These can be fired simply by pulling the trigger or by cocking the hammer.
Revolvers come in a variety of calibers and cylinder configurations. These different revolvers can hold from 4 to 9 rounds of ammo depending on the size of the caliber.
Revolvers also come in a variety of barrel lengths.

2) Derringer.
This is a compact handgun.
Derringers generally hold 2 rounds of ammo with one barrel on top of the other and are hand size for easy concealment.

3) The Semi Automatic.
These come in both compact and full size models and are also found in a variety of calibers (ammo sizes).
They work on a gas system that when one round is fired the slide goes back and forth ejecting the spent fired round, and loads the next round. Once charged (loaded) and the handgun is fired, the weapon will continue to fire each time the trigger is pulled until the firearm is empty. The ammo is held and fed through a magazine. Magazines also come is different capacities depending on the caliber of the handgun.


Rifles:
There are Six Basic Models or Types -
1) The Bolt Action - The ammo is loaded into a magazine, fixed or separate from the rifle. To load the Rifle you either open the bolt all the way and place one round in the chamber or you load the magazine and open and close the bolt action to feed one round at a time into the chamber for firing. Rifles come in almost every caliber imaginable.
Rifles also come in a variety of barrel lengths.

2) Semi-Auto - These are Rifles that fire from a magazine feed. They work based on one round being loaded into the chamber and the magazine is full. Once the first round is fired the gas expels the spent round and loads the next round ready to fire. It will fire as fast as you can pull the trigger. Assault Rifles such as The AR15, SKS, and AK47 are all semi automatic rifles for civilian use. Military Rifles have the option of firing in semi-auto or full auto.

3) Lever Action - These Rifles usually use a tube located under the barrel to hold the ammo. The rounds are fed into the chamber by pulling down on a lever and then closed. You just repeat the lever action process to eject the spent round and load a new unfired round into the chamber. Some manufacturers have made lever action rifles with a magazine.

4) Single Barrel, Single Shot Rifle - As indicated these rifles hold one round at a time. You must reload a new round manually each time to shoot. Modern day replicas and antique black powder such as a 50 Caliber Buffalo Rifle fit into this category.

5) The Pump Action Rifle - Generally these are tube fed whereby the ammo is under the barrel. In some models they could be magazine fed. They work by pulling the pump, found forward on the barrel, back and then forward. This loads and ejects the spent round. 

6) The Double Barrel - These are more European and were popular at one time for Big Game Hunting. They look like a side by side (double barrel) shotgun but hold large caliber rifle ammo. This is know as a break action method firearm. These usually have two triggers.


Shotguns:
There are Six Basic Models or Types -
1) The Single Barrel - As indicated this type of shotgun holds one round at a time. You must reload a new round manually each time to shoot. They work by opening the barrel and manually placing a shotgun shell in the barrel. This is know as a break action method firearm. These can come with or without a hammer. If the shotgun has a hammer the hammer must be cocked to fire the weapon. If they do not have a hammer, then moving the safety from the safe position to the fire position will allow the shotgun to be fired.
Shotguns come in various caliber sizes known as gauge. The shotgun gauges most often found are 410, 20, and 12 which are popular both for hunting and defense. But shotguns are also available in 10, 16, and 28 gauges. Older shotguns when once fired the spent shotgun shell had to be removed manually, now they eject when the shotgun is opened.
Shotguns come in a variety of barrel lengths. Shotguns also come in a variety of Chokes (end barrel configuration that controls the spread of the shot being fired).
Some shotguns have what is referred to as Ribs. This is thin strip on top of barrel that runs the full length of the barrel that helps expel the gasses and reduce the recoil.

2) The Side by Side - Also known as the Double Barrel or Coach Gun (when the barrels are short and have hammers). These shotguns have two barrels side by side. They work by opening the barrel and manually placing shotgun shells side by side, one in each barrel. This is know as a break action method firearm. These can come with or without a hammer. If the shotgun has hammers the hammer must be cocked to fire the weapon. If they do not have hammers, then moving the safety from the safe position to the fire position will allow the shotgun to be fired one barrel at a time. These shotguns have two triggers.

3) The Over / Under - Works the same as the side by side, double barrel, but the barrels are on top of one another. Generally they do not have hammers.

4) The Pump Action - The Pump Action Shotgun is very popular among hunters. Generally these are tube fed whereby the ammo is under the barrel. In some models they could be magazine fed. They work by pulling the pump, found forward on the barrel, back and then forward. This loads and ejects the spent round. Pump Action Shotguns are also very popular for tactical and home defense.

5) The Semi-Auto - These are Shotguns that fire from either a tube or a magazine feed. They work based on one round being loaded into the chamber and the magazine is full. Once the first round is fired the gas expels the spent round and loads the next round ready to fire. It will fire as fast as you can pull the trigger. Assault Shotguns such as Saiga are all semi automatic for civilian use. Military has the option of firing in semi-auto or full auto. They also come with drum style magazines.

6) The Lever Action - Popular for Cowboy Shooting. They usually come in 12 or 10 gauge. They work just like a lever action rifle. In the movie Terminator 2, Arnold used a 10 Gauge Lever Action Shotgun.


Semi Automatic versus Full Automatic:
1) Semi Auto - Any weapon that is classified as semi automatic simply means you must pull the trigger each time you want the weapon to fire.

2) Full Auto - This means that you just pull your finger back and hold it. The weapon will continue to fire until empty.


Machine Guns:
This is any weapon that fires in a full auto (automatic) mode. Many of these are belt feed.


Modern Day versus Black Powder Firearms:
1) Modern Day Firearms - Any Firearm manufactured after January 1, 1898 fires a modern style gun powder. These are controlled by the ATF and must be sold by a licensed FFL, except a used firearm that can be sold and bought from one private owner to another.
Important - Only licensed FFL Dealers may transport these firearms to another FFL Dealer. So if you buy one of these from a private individual or auction house you must have it shipped from one FFL to another FFL where you will pick it up.

2) Black Powder Firearms - These are not controlled by the ATF and can be sold by anyone. This includes modern day manufactured replicas. This also includes antiques and musket style weapons. However, many states or cities have issued there own laws controlling the ownership and sale of these firearms.
Important - These can be sent via USPS (Post Office) except where prohibited by law. 

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